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Thermal Dependence Of Muscle Function

A. F. Bennett

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Maximal isometric forces during both twitch and tetanus are largely temperature independent in muscles from both endothermic and ectothermic vertebrates. Anuran muscle can develop maximal force at lower temperatures than mammalian muscle. Tetanic tension is maximal at normally experienced body temperatures in a variety of animals, but twitch tension seldom is. Thermal dependence of twitch tension varies with muscle fiber type: tension decreases with increasing temperature in fast-twitch muscles and remains constant in slow-twitch muscles. In contrast to the low temperature dependence of force generation, rates of development of tension (time to peak twitch tension and tetanic rise time) and maximal velocity of shortening and power output are markedly temperature dependent, with average temperature coefficient (Q10) values of 2.0-2.5 Q10 values for rate processes of anuran muscle are only slightly lower than those of mammalian muscle. High body temperatures permit rapid rates of muscle contraction; animals active at low body temperatures do not achieve the maximal rate performance their muscles are capable of delivering. Thermal acclimation or hibernation does not appear to result in compensatory adjustments in either force generation or rate processes. In vivo, dynamic processes dependent on contractile rates are positively temperature dependent, although with markedly lower Q10 values than those of isolated muscle. Static force application in vivo is nearly temperature independent.